CLACTON could be one of the worst hit places in the country for pensioners losing their free TV licences, an MEP has warned.

Everyone aged over 75 currently gets a free licence to use BBC television and online services such as iPlayer.

But pensioners under 80 could now be asked to fork out up to £150 each year for a colour TV licence.

East of England MEP Alex Mayer said Clacton is the third worst hit place across the entire country, with 3,950 pensioners at risk of losing their licence.

She added: “The Tory Government knew what it was doing when it forced the cost of paying for free licences for over-75s on to the BBC. They should think again.

“It will be a terrible blow to older people who already struggle to make ends meet and particularly to those who are housebound or isolated and rely on their TV for company.

“The Tory Government needs to come clean and to tell us urgently what they are going to do to ensure free TV licences aren’t cut and they don’t break their manifesto promise.”

The Government has shifted the financial burden from the Treasury to the BBC, which is now consulting on a number of options. But the MEP said that under every proposed option, thousands will lose out.

There are currently 10,480 older households in Clacton, of which 3,950 local pensioners will lose their TV licence if the age threshold is raised to 80.

If the free TV licence becomes means tested it is expected that 7,910 will lose their free licences.

The Campaign to End Loneliness said four out of ten older people said TV is their “main company”.

Mike Le Cornu, 94, chairman of the Tendring Pensioners’ Action Group, said: “One of the reasons we oppose this is loneliness. It is one of the worst things to affect the elderly.

“We feel the Government has abdicated its responsibility and has pushed this on to the BBC to decide what to do.

“I don’t think the BBC is interested in providing free licences to pensioners.”

To take part in the BBC consultation, go to